Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

OK, the primary’s tomorrow, so I really have to decide who I’m voting for. In spite of all the trepidation I’ve been expressing the last two weeks, it’s Bernie, for reasons I’ll explain in the weekly summary.

This week’s featured post is another one of those long history-and-theory rambles that I’m sure any blogging coach would tell me to stop writing — if not for the fact that Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party and The Distress of the Privileged are my two most popular articles. It’s called “Say — you want a revolution?”, and it’s about what’s really involved in the kind of “political revolution” Bernie keeps calling for. I think it’s a bigger job than a lot of Sanders supporters imagine. The problem isn’t just getting people out to vote once — Obama did that — but creating a reliable new voting majority that will keep coming back election after election. And that means understanding a lot more about why people do or don’t vote.

Even the parts of the summary that aren’t about my own decision are largely going to be about the campaign. Living in New Hampshire right now, it’s hard to think about much else. But I’ll also mention my cup of coffee with Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, who is leading the fight in Congress against money in politics. (A lot more about that in coming weeks. If Sarbanes isn’t a future presidential candidate, I’ve never seen one.) I’ll try to keep a sense of humor, even about tomorrow’s primary, and I’ll look for a much less serious closing.

The Monday Morning Teaser

At long last, somebody is finally going to vote. The Iowa Caucuses are tonight, and the New Hampshire Primary is a week from tomorrow.

And I still don’t know who I’m voting for. In this week’s featured post, I’ll take you through my thinking — and make a plea for mutual understanding. It’s amazing how much hostility both Sanders and Clinton supporters are tossing at people who are slow to join them.

That should be out soon.

The weekly summary will cover other odds and ends from the presidential race (including the Republican side, which the featured post doesn’t deal with at all), note that switching back to the original water source hasn’t ended the Flint crisis, express gratitude that the authorities finally made a move against the Oregon occupation, and link to some other interesting stuff.

The Monday Morning Teaser

We’re coming down to the wire on the early primaries: Next Monday the Iowa caucuses happen, and eight days later I have to vote here in New Hampshire. As the Democratic race tightens up, I find myself wondering: So far all the Republicans have been running against Hillary, talking about Benghazi and emails and Bill’s escapades. If they started running against Bernie, what would that sound like?

Well, it turns out The New York Post jumped the gun on the anti-Bernie campaign, warning America that he’s a “diehard Communist”, and listing all sorts of “evidence” that has just about as much factual basis as … well, as the Benghazi stand-down order and all the other crap they’ve been throwing at Hillary.

But just because it’s crap doesn’t mean that it won’t work, or at least work well enough to distract the electorate from looking at the issues Bernie is trying to run on. Going back to Dukakis and the Pledge of Allegiance issue in 1988, all Democratic nominees spend a big chunk of their campaign wading through crap: swift-boating against Kerry, birtherism and “paling around with terrorists” against Obama, and so forth. Some nominees have had the political skill to cut through the noise and get the public to pay attention to their issues, and some haven’t. That has a lot to do with which ones won.

So what about Bernie and his “history” of diehard Communism? If he’s nominated, how will the Republicans use that against him and will he have the skills to deal with it? I’ll meditate on that in this week’s featured post “Smearing Bernie, a preview”. That should be out soon.

The weekly summary also has a lot of election coverage in it: Trump/Cruz is getting nasty. Hillary has been overstating the problems with Bernie’s healthcare plan, but Ezra Klein and Paul Krugman point out that there are some legitimate issues there. The Vanilla ISIS folks are still scaring the birds away in Oregon. Winter Storm Jonas clobbered the NY-Washington corridor, but left New England alone. Then there’s Flint, and verification that 2015 was the hottest year ever.  And of course, a couple guns-make-us-safer stories. That should be out by 10:30.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m back after a week on the west coast.

I expected to do a State of the Union post. But oddly, what struck me was a stretch of Nikki Haley’s SOTU response — and not the one that got all the attention. The part of her speech that everyone covered was the anti-Trump part, where she said the GOP shouldn’t “follow the angriest voices”. More interesting to me, though, was that she went on to give a positive message about what the country could expect from a Republican president. I’m not hearing that kind of thing anywhere else, so I thought I’d call it to your attention.

Naturally, though, my reaction to that litany of future accomplishments wasn’t a simple “Gee, that’ll be great.” Instead, I went through it line-by-line and asked whether the policies Republicans are proposing could actually lead to these results. The result is “The Positive Republican Message, Annotated”. It should be out shortly.

I’ve also been paying attention to the militia that has taken over that wildlife refuge in Oregon. At first I thought I’d write an in-depth article about it, but then I decided I’d never get all the background reading done in time. So instead I started summarizing all the good articles other people have been writing. Then that got out of hand and turned into its own article after all. It still needs an introduction and a title, so that probably won’t be out until 10 or 11.

The weekly summary will cover the Iran negotiations, Obama’s SOTU and gun townhall, the Episcopal/Anglican kerfuffle, the Cruz birther thing, and a few other topics before closing with the War and Peace trailer — I’m not entirely sure what it has to do with War and Peace, but wow.

The Monday Morning Teaser

In this week’s featured post, I’ll return to the theme of one of my old favorites, “One Word Turns the Tea Party Around” from 2011, which was the first Sift post to go viral and get 10K hits. The point of that post was that while I agreed with a lot of Tea Party rhetoric about how working people need to take the country back from a tyrannical elite, TPers got turned around when they identified that elite as Big Government and sought to control it by allying with billionaires and corporations. The reality was exactly the reverse: The ruling elite we need to take the country back from are the billionaires and corporate executives, and we need to use the power of government to do so.

So the metaphor I gave for the Tea Party was Jim Marshall’s famous wrong-way touchdown run, which looked great athletically, but scored points for the wrong team. I proposed to fix Tea Party rhetoric by changing the word government to corporations, and the post gave many examples to demonstrate how well that works, like this adjusted Ronald Reagan quote:

Lord Acton said power corrupts. Surely then, if this is true, the more power we give the corporations the more corrupt they will become.

Well, four and a half years later, Tea Partiers are catching on to the fact that the Republicans they elected aren’t serving their interests, so they’re going with “anti-establishment” Republican candidates like the billionaire Trump. In other words: They’re still running towards the wrong goal line. I’ll flesh that idea out, with some background on how the working class has been suckered by the rich throughout American history, in “Trump Supporters and Liberals: Why aren’t we on the same side?” That should be out between 9 and 10 EST.

In the weekly summary, I’ll link to some best-of-2015 lists, then talk about Bill Cosby, the affluenza teen, Tamir Rice, the Oregon militia stand-off, Donald vs. Bill, and a few other things, before closing with AJ+’s resolutions for 2016 “that will really make America great”.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s the final Monday of 2015; time for the Yearly Sift. Today I’ll assess what the Sift’s themes of the year have been, link to the most popular and most significant articles, provide a handy list of links to all the books I reviewed this year, claim my most and confess my least prescient comments, link to a list of all the year’s opening quotes, and tell you how the blog has been doing in terms of readership.

The themes of the year should start coming out soon, and I’ll try to get everything done by noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m at a Holiday Inn Express with the slowest wifi in the known world, so any time predictions on this week’s Sift are iffy.

This week’s featured post will be “Small-government Freedom vs. Big-government Rights”. It explores a key difference in liberal and conservative rhetoric: When conservatives talk about “freedom”, they usually mean the absence of government, while when liberals talk about “rights”, they typically are referring to prerogatives that wouldn’t exist if government weren’t there to defend them. The clearest illustration of this difference in American history comes from a new book After Appomattox by Gregory Downs, which shows how the rights of the newly freed slaves depended on the presence of Union soldiers, who suppressed the freedom of the Southern whites to re-assert their dominance.

The weekly summary will cover developments in the Freddie Gray and Laquan McDonald police-violence cases, the deal to keep the government open, a variety of bizarre religion stories, the Flint water scandal, and a very sad and instructive story about a rape investigation, before closing with some Bad Lip Reading of Star Wars.

Times? Geez, who knows? I’ll stay with it until I get stuff out.

The Monday Morning Teaser

A few hours after last week’s Sift got finished, Donald Trump made his don’t-let-any-Muslims-in proposal, which seemed to be about all anybody could talk about for the rest of the week. Not to write about that would feel like dodging, but at the same time I don’t want to repeat the same oh-isn’t-that-horrible reaction you’ve been hearing all week.

Not that it isn’t horrible, but you know that already. Is there anything more insightful to say about it? The articles that I found interesting this week focused on where this stuff comes from and why there is an audience for it: Republicans and their conservative media have been building that audience for years, using white Christian identity politics to manipulate working-class whites into supporting the candidates of the corporate establishment. They’ve built an echo chamber where bizarre conspiracy theories and simplistic views of economics and foreign affairs can avoid the friction of the real world. Now that Trump is playing their game better than they do, they want to call a foul.

I’ll sum up that point of view in the first featured post “How the Republicans Trumped Themselves”. That should be out shortly.

But there’s something else that I think needs to get out there. What Trump’s fans love about him is that he is a “strong leader”, and I feel like that idea needs to be taken on more directly — because what he’s doing doesn’t fit my notion of leadership at all. So the second featured post will be “The Leadership We Need”. That still needs work, so I’m not sure what time it will post.

The weekly summary will discuss the aftermath of the recent mass shootings, quote two new books that illustrate the complexity and diversity of Islam, and pull together a few of the Peanuts references that have accompanied the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, before closing with two attempts to enlist high tech in the effort to replace meat and eggs.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I didn’t get as much done this weekend as I usually do, and I still haven’t digested the President’s speech last night, so I’m not making predictions about when today’s posts will appear. I can say that there will be two featured posts and a weekly summary.

The first post will short (by recent Sift standards), making a simple point about the gun-control debate and why the two sides talk past each other. It will be called “Guns are security blankets, not insurance policies”.

The second catches up with the presidential race in a somewhat more detailed way than I can do in a weekly summary. On the Democratic side, I’m going to discuss where I am in deciding who to vote for in the New Hampshire primary, and on the Republican side I’m going to review several of the predictions/observations I’ve been making, to see how events have been treating them. (No, I did not foresee Trump at the top of the polls this late in the process.) I think the political pundits on TV should do more of that, so I’m going to apply those standards to myself.

The weekly summary will include a bunch of points about guns that I combed out of the first post to focus it better. (Some posts get long because a big theme has broad implications, and some get long because I keep saying “and another thing …”.) Also, the Paris climate talks may have been driven off the front pages, but they’re happening; coal baron Don Blankenship finally faces (not nearly enough) consequences for his role in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster; Republicans in Congress take a further step in their never-dying effort to repeal ObamaCare (while making yet another promise that their replacement plan will appear really, really soon — they’ve only kept us waiting for six years); sadly, Dick Cheney has not been frozen in carbonite Han-Solo-style; and the closing will be a guided meditation that you will probably never hear from one of those motivational consultants at the office.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week much ink was spilled discussing the word fascist. What is fascism, anyway? Is it fair to call Donald Trump a fascist? Does the word actually mean something or is it just an insult? If it does mean something, does it apply uniquely to Trump, or is there a larger fascist or proto-fascist problem in America?

When I started researching this, I worried that it might be a little too theoretical to blog about. But everybody I mentioned fascism to this week got intense. It’s like we ate something we can’t digest. We’re thinking about it, but we don’t know what to think.

Well, I’ve been thinking about it too. The result is a long article (which has a convenient stopping point in the middle, if you don’t feel like going all the way down the rabbit hole) I call “The Political F-Word”. It’s pretty much done, but this is the kind of article where a small misstatement can lead to a long comment thread that completely misses the point, so the final edit may take longer than usual. It should post sometime between 8 and 9 EST.

The weekly summary will pull together two recent examples of what appears to be right-wing terrorism: the Planned Parenthood attack in Colorado and the attack on Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Minnesota. Also, the murder of Laquan McDonald by a Chicago policeman, and what the 13-month cover-up says about a larger corruption issue that Mayor Emmanuel shows no interest in; possibly the last sub-400 ppm measurement of CO2; and I’ll have to look around for some good news to balance all that. Let’s predict that to appear sometime between 11 and noon.


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